Let me tell you a little bit about myself, my background, and my passion for America. My story consists of three components: growing up, working life, and serving others.
I grew up in Bellflower, California in a Loving Christian family, where the values of being responsible for your actions mattered, as my family believed most of us were taught in homes and schools at that time. From my father I learned the value of work. My father didn’t believe in giving any of us kids an allowance for the work we did around the house. He looked at that work as a part of learning to be a responsible family member. If we wanted spending money, we had to earn it, and we did. During those years I usually had an after-school job, reinforcing my belief that a good work ethic is essential to success.
Those jobs ranged from passing out flyers, to mopping floors, to a dishwasher, shining shoes, pumping gas, bottling and selling milk. My work ethic was always strong. I never viewed these jobs as drudgery; I viewed them as normal, that it was important to work, to earn, and to pay my own way. I never believed that my parents, or the government, owed me anything. I did expect that my family would ensure that I had a roof over my head, food to eat, and clothes to wear. I don’t recall government assistance ever being discussed within my family.
I began my political “career” in 1956, passing out small pocket-sized Presidents books in support of President Eisenhower. I was nine years old. I have been active in politics to one degree or another ever since.
My adult working life first started in the steel industry and then in the food industry. I started out on the ground floor, and rose to become an executive with several food companies in California. I had clients such as Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, Costco, Kroger Markets, Safeway. Trader Joe’s, and Albertsons. I was responsible for large numbers of people, a budget, product development, logistics, marketing and revenue goals. Again, accountability and responsibility was just a normal way of life to me.
My wife, Jean, and I started a property management company and, at one point, we owned more than 30 properties that included apartments, houses, raw land, and commercial buildings in California, Iowa, Idaho and Arizona. We also took an interest in antiques, and opened an antique store in Iowa which was successful as a business and a property as well.
During our lives my wife and I felt as Christians we were called to help others, to reach out in order to make life better for those less fortunate. In 1976 I opened a Halfway House in Bellfower, California. This facility was open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We took in men of all ages, helping them to conquer addictions to drugs or alcohol; we helped those who suffered traumatic discouragement, and homelessness. We helped them to get sober, find jobs, reunite with their families and find their way back into society.
We started and operated a Christian coffee house, which was a “drop-in” facility. We helped and counseled anyone who came to us. We stayed open 12-14 hours each day, 6 days a week. This was all done while we both held full time jobs, generating the income we needed in order to support this work we valued.
We saw the need to reach out to young people in the skid row area of Hollywood, California. Our focus was on runaway and homeless teenagers. We helped both the teenagers who came to us and those in other areas who heard of us. Several of the teenagers that came to us decided, in time, to return home. This was a very satisfying experience.
We began an outreach program further south, near Rosarita Beach, Mexico or as some call it Baja California, with a destitute family consisting of a grandmother, two daughters, and five children. Over time this small group grew to be a village of over 200 people. We went there every other weekend, bringing flour, beans, rice, and other staples. We also brought them clothing, blankets, and other basic items along with, of course, Bibles. This program continued until the late 1980s when it was determined that I needed surgery for my back. We found a Nazarene Missionary whom we had contacted through a pastor we knew in Bellflower, Ca., and he eagerly took over this program.
It’s important to understand that: a) We started and ran these programs using our own money. The government had no involvement and b) To us this was one of the finest ways of being of service to others.
We reached a point where we decided that it was time to settle down in one place, so we sold all of our holdings except for the home we now own in Sun City West, AZ.
In 2004 I was given the opportunity to go “on air” in radio in California, and have been on the air ever since. I’ve been on the radio in California, but also in Idaho, Florida, and now in Arizona. The format of my shows was politics, “Crossroads with Van.” I interviewed office holders, candidates, discussed the issues of the day, and provided analysis and commentary. Even though I’m officially retired now, I still do some talk radio, on the Internet.
Politically, I’m the past President of The Greater Phoenix Tea Party Patriot Group. I was also the sole sponsor and host for the Saluting Patriots Concert at the Wigwam Resort in August of 2011 to raise monies for several veterans groups. I also put together a Second Amendment Rally at the Capitol in March of 2013. I also speak at various venues around the valley.
We have a daughter, grandchildren, and a great grandson, and we’re concerned about the future for all of them. What kind of country are we going to leave behind for them, and for that matter, all the children of this great country? This question is what drives me.
My wife and I have been Precinct Committeemen and State Committeemen in the GOP since 2009, and sponsored candidate forums during the last three election cycles. But why did I finally decide to run for office?
I follow what’s going on in our country very closely. I measure our Constitution against the laws that Congress keeps passing that have no authority behind them, and it is extremely disappointing. I have spoken about it, written about it, and talked about it on the air. But I really wasn’t convinced that I wanted to run for a political office, even though I had been approached and encouraged to do so several times. When an Arizona US Senate seat became vacant I was again approached several times and asked to run for it. Though I believed that our outreach programs and my political involvement from the outside were enough, my wife and I talked and prayed about whether I should run. In the end, I decided that I would run for the U.S. Senate from Arizona in 2012 or as my wife put it to me, “You have a duty, so we tried however discovered that even though the polls said registered Republicans wanted to remove incumbents we lost, as the voters in AZ decided to stay with a well known Congressman Mr. Flake who now joins Sen. McCain in his push push for Legal Status.
Though I spoke with and met with thousands of people across our great state, and received very high marks and acceptance, in the end I was defeated. Some polls since that election showed that I now have 40% or more of the votes if the voters cast their ballots today—that is if you believe what they call reverse polling. It’s a small consolation, but my message was clear: We are a Constitutional Representative Republic based on Judeo-Christian principles, yet are being dictated to by a federal government that seemingly ignores the Constitution at every turn. I lost the election, or as I call it a battle, but not my confidence in the citizens of Arizona, as we continue to believe that if those in DC continue to serve the special interest groups the voters will see that the only way to fix the problems in America is by replacing those in office.
After many meetings with several people, and a long period of time studying the voting record of the current occupant of the U.S. House seat from Arizona in CD 8, it was clear to me, and to others, that we are not being served very well by our Representative in Congressional District 8, after several meetings, and prayer we decided to run in 2012, we tried to unseat an incumbent Rep. in CD 8 who’d been in office for 12 yrs., however discovered that even though the polls said registered Republicans wanted to remove incumbents by 86% we lost 73% to 27%, not a bad showing considering that others who challenged him in Primaries from 06 – 12 hadn’t gotten above 20%, however once again those in the CD 8 decided to stay with an Incumbent.
Other states are also beginning to challenge incumbents who have not and are not serving their constituents, in their respective states, or their country. If this wave of conservatism continues, we’ll see a sea wave of change in the House of Representatives in 2017.
I want to thank you for taking the time to read this statement and hope you’ll join us in our attempt once again to unseat the incumbent of now 14 yrs.
God Bless You All;
Clair Van Steenwyk